Cover Image: Girl in the Walls

Girl in the Walls

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Member Reviews

I was interested in this book as it says it is a gothic tale. Unfortunately this is not what this book is. In many ways it is hard to categorise but the title gothic is very misleading. That being said it is a very different book. My main issue with it is the time it takes to get started. It took about 50% of reading the book before it really moved the story forward and it became a page turner. Certainly some editing of the first half would have helped to make the story tighter. 
The book however is very different to anything else I have read and certainly makes for an interesting scenario and read.-  I would certainly recommend it if you can read through the first half.
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I was expecting a ghost story here but instead I got a beautiful and unique exploration of grief, loneliness, survival, friendship and belonging, full of atmosphere and with a creepy twist that kept the tension high all throughout. Haunting, clever and surprising.
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Girl in the Walls is a story of grief and self survival. 

The story centres around Elise, a young girl who loses her parents and so the fight for survival begins. With nowhere to go, Elise finds her way back to a home she is familiar with. A new family live there but Elise learns to blend into the background and hence lives in the walls. 

The descriptions throughout this book are powerful and pull you into the story more. Maybe this is in part influenced by my own bereavement processes but I loved this book. Worth all 5 stars.
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Fantastic book that will keep you guessing right to the end - and thinking about it long after! Expertly crafted characters draw you in even as you start to understand that things may not be all they seem...
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A gripping story with a brilliant plot. The characters were really well written and believable. Highly recommended.
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Girl in the Walls is a unique story of survival and how we acknowledge the concept of ‘home’. Is home where we belong and feel safe – what a compelling story if two strangers have the same view over the same house. There is a glaring mystery behind the nature of the ‘Girl in the Walls’ - is she real or a ghost?

Elise is a young girl who survived a car accident that killed her parents, and she cannot accept foster care so runs away to the only place she considers home – the old house her family lived in until recently. The house is now owned by Nick and Laura Mason with their two sons Eddie and Marshall. Elise knows the hidden spaces between floors, walls, the attic, crawlspaces, and she occupies these areas living on the scraps of food and water she can retrieve when the family are asleep or out. Eddie is the younger brother and at odds with his older brother, he is a shy, solitary boy and has a strong sense of the presence of Elise but feels unable to discuss this with his parents or brother.

Brodie is a young boy from the area and unexpectedly discovers Elise in the house and they eventually establish a friendship after Elise struggled between driving him away and needing his companionship. Even as a young child she understands the importance of secrecy and careful choices that could cause suspicion. After getting past the idea that a child could accomplish this feat, the description of Elise’s life following the loss of her parents, finding little items such as her mother's sock is emotional and cleverly expressed. The anxiousness of her state of mind, her health condition, and her loneliness in dealing with grief is heartfelt and well conveyed. Brodie is not as clever in leaving a negligible footprint in the house and when items belonging to Marshall are taken it brings him into the belief that someone is in their house.

Marshall searches possibilities online about people living in your house and agrees that someone will come out to investigate his house while his parents are away. What transpires is a shocking attack on the house and search for Elise from a deranged force. I could appreciate peril being focused on Elise as she is hunted and an apprehension the closer the discovery became, but this was very dark and sinister and out of character for the story to that point. It didn’t make sense why the hunter was so obsessed with catching Elise and his chilling actions were totally off the charts.

The personalities and backgrounds of Elise, Eddie and Brodie were wonderful, and it is very easy to connect with them as they each grow and cherish the value of family and friendship, and the dangers that exist in an outside world. A.J. Gnuse has written a coming of age story with horrifying dangers but unfortunately with a few plot holes and a threatening twist, it took the atmosphere in a very dark direction. I would rate this book 3.5 stars but rounding down because the unbelievability in aspects of the story was difficult to set aside.

I would like to thank Fourth Estate and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy in return for an honest review.
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No idea what this book is about - it doesn't flow or make any sense at all.   It takes quite a lot for me not to finish a book - but struggled to get a quarter way through and couldn't read any more.
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Weird book - not what I thought. Skipped to the end as I felt nothing really happened for long spells.
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I am always afraid to go into books with so much anticipation and hype because then my expectations skyrocket and, unfairly to the book itself perhaps, rarely deliver.

This book was one of those, in my eyes. I was expecting a gothic novel and I did not get that. The author is undeniably writing extremely well and you can immediately tell that she is talented to what she does, but since I read something other than what I was expecting I felt underwhelmed and I was not as invested as I would have been if the blurb didn't set the tone for something different.

Great book, just didn't hit the mark for me at the time I read it.
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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review 

This book is not thrilling, or gothic, or scary, or creepy. It’s a sad and quirky story about a girl that has something super-sad happen to her and then interacts with two boys in a quirky way. Not a bad book, but definitely not what I was expecting. 

3.5 rounded up.
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4/5 stars.
I utterly enjoyed this book. I think I was expecting more of a thriller when I started it and although it did have a bit of that creepy gothic feel to it it was also beautiful and tragic and emotional. I grew attached to Elise and Eddie and even Marshall and Brody by the end. But Elise.. you felt for her and rooted for her and I kind of just wanted to give her a massive hug.

This one got a staff favourite sticker in store and I have already and sold a bunch!
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A.J. Gnuse has written a cracking, heartbreaking story set in a large old house in Louisiana.

This was a moving story that has fairy-tale qualities and a haunting tale of loss. The reader sees the story through the eyes of a young girl called Elise. She goes back to the house she had lived in before her parents were tragically killed in a car crash, looking for a place to belong and feel safe. Only now the house is occupied by the Mason family, consisting of mum and dad - Nick and Laura - and their sons Eddie and Marshall. Elise crawls into the walls and lives in the fabric of the building. The tale becomes terrifying when the parents of the two boys leave them for a night on their own.

Girl in the Walls drew me into the original and creative plot and it soon became very difficult to put down. Beautifully written, this story was often creepy and sometimes extremely heart-wrenching. Though the concept is chilling, A.J. Gnuse explores feelings of grief, of growing older, and of coping with whatever life doles out to you. Girl in the Walls is a humdinger of a tale, so ready yourself and dive in.

I read Girl in the Walls in staves with other Pigeonholers as part of a group. A special thank you to Fourth Estate, A.J. Gnuse, NetGalley and The Pigeonhole for a complimentary copy of this novel at my request. This review is my unbiased opinion.
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First off I want to say that I think this book was marketed incorrectly. I was expecting a creepy, gothic ghost story and that it NOT what this is at all. Everyone is very much alive in this story (and that is not a spoiler) and it is very modern.

Ok so disappointment aside, this started off strong, it’s a weird concept having a girl living in the walls of her old childhood home and I was excited for it.

But very quickly it got boring. It was very slow paced, which isn’t always a bad thing, but nothing was really happening. Elise’s character was quite bland, as were the family now living in the house.

Unfortunately there is no real exploring of Elise’s emotions. The fact her parents just died suggests to me that she must be feeling some pretty strong grief, but this wasn’t conveyed. I didn’t feel anything for her, and I didn’t understand the reasoning behind anything she did.

I thought at some point Elise would be interacting with the boys who now live in the house but instead a “villain” is brought in to spice it up half way through, but it’s so odd and leaves so many more questions.

The atmosphere was pretty non existent and everything felt very surface level. This could be a YA novel as it’s so simplistic.

I have a few more thoughts but they would be spoilers so I will have to leave it there. You might enjoy this if you go into it expecting what it actually is, but I was left a bit disappointed.
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Not my usual sort of read but I fancied a change . This story stuck me as more of a young adults book. Worth a read if you don’t want anything too heavy.
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Sorry, just couldn't get into it. Too many other books competing for my attention. Well-written and interesting premise though so I can imagine it'll attract a lot of fans.
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. It has been published in March 2021.

"The Girl in the Walls" by A.J. Gnuse is a book like no other, really.
I would be hard-pressed to even define its genre. It has a little bit of a horror flavour and a little bit of modern fairy-tale in it, with a touch of gothic and a good portion of mystery mixed in for good measure.
Throughout the first half of the book, I honestly had no idea what was happening.
The writing style is captivating, totally sui generis, just like the high-concept story demands. The atmospheres are fascinating.
The pace is a little bit slow at first, but it gradually picks up along the course of the narration.
I found it extremely well-written, so much so that I could even go along with the outrageously far-fetched idea the whole story is based on.
The final showdown between the protagonist and the villain is a tad anticlimactic, but the awesome epilogue more than makes up for it.
It's a very interesting debut novel, which left me with the desire to read whatever the author will publish next.
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DNF @ 20%

It took me a lot to reach the decision of DNFing because I absolutely adore the premise set in the synopsis.

However, thus far I’ve been unable to get into the book at all and have no desire to pick it back up. Maybe I haven’t read far enough but at almost a quarter of the way through the book, I would like to see and start feeling the suspense of Eddie discovering Elise. As described in the synopsis.

I was curious about Elise’s character and how she was continuing to survive on next to nothing. 
But for me, the pace really needed a step up to increase my engagement or at least, a build up of suspense.

Very grateful to have been given the opportunity to read this e-ARC but unfortunately, this one wasn’t for me.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book but I will preface this positive review by saying two things. 
1. This book is being marketed as a Gothic novel and like many of my fellow reviewers I think this is inaccurate and will lead to poor reviews from readers who were expecting something very different. 
2. You will need to suspend your disbelief for this  one. There is no place for cynicism in the reading of this novel but I promise you, if I can do it then you can do it and you’ll be glad you did. 
This story grew from the author’s childhood fears of noises in his house and finding out that even as an adult ‘things that go bump in the night’ are still anxiety inducing. This could have been a  very good ghost story but there are plenty of very good ghost stories out there. Aj Gnuse went one step further and put an entire person inside the walls of an old Louisiana house. This person is an adolescent girl called Elise who has returned to the house where she grew up following the death of her parents and being placed into foster care. 
Despite the entire story being Elise’s love song to her parents this novel keeps adult characters firmly in the background. I felt they were like the adults in the Peanuts tv cartoons there but muffled. I’m assuming as Elise hears the goings on of the house from within its walls that this was deliberate by Gnuse and I salute them for achieving it so well. The other characters are The House and the children; Elise, the brothers for who the house is currently home: Marshall and Eddie and Brodie a kid from the neighbourhood. Ok, so there is also a fantastic cameo role for the bird call sounding granddaughter clock! The characters are richly drawn and you instantly have sympathy and points of connection with each of them. Marshall and Eddie each have their crosses to bear. Marshall the older brother struggling to live somewhere fairly remote and with his younger brothers ‘weirdness’ and mostly just struggling with being a teenage boy! Eddie is a neuro-divergent square peg desperately trying to care for his own needs and also try to fit into the round hole of his family and middle school. As an autistic adult I identified with so much that Eddie felt, how all the other kids were ‘older’ and all seemed to be following this rule book that no one had ever given me but at the same time perfectly happy and content to be allowed to indulge in endless hours or Lego in the privacy of my own room. We don’t really know what kind of child Elise was before the loss of her parents and this changed identity to ‘girl in the walls’ gives her a unique ability to be impartial as she learns the ways of the family. 
I feel that I know the house intimately from the inside and outside and I would love to see a house similar to one the author based the story on though I’m not sure googling “houses with really wide walls Louisiana” is going to take me very far! 
There were two strands left unravelled at the end of the book. Two people who simply disappeared. One I care about and I’d like to have known was safe and the other... I’m glad the author doesn’t spare them a second thought!
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Elise lives in the walls of her old family home, her parents have died and she fled her foster parents to go home. Now she watches and listens.

This book made me think about the creaks I hear at night- is there someone in the attic, or in the walls?

Throughout this story, from Elise watching the inhabitants of her old home, we learn about her life and the tragedy that she suffered. It is a very original idea, not meant to be creepy but it is creepy nonetheless!

Thank you to Netgalley for this review copy
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I wasn’t completely pulled in with this. Unfortunately I was unable to finish it as I just couldn’t get into it, I couldn’t get to grips with the characters and found it quite confusing.
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